Authors Note: This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, real brands, or real places are used fictitiously or are products of the author’s imagination.
Mystery Challenge: Think you figured out what really happened to Tik Tok star, Evie Holiday? Make your guess. The first person who most accurately guesses the conclusion receives a $100 gift card to the bookstore of their choosing. There’s only one guess per subscriber, so make sure you make it count and don’t guess too early. There are six episodes in total. Make your guess at email@example.com.
Weekly Giveaway: I’ll also be hosting a weekly giveaway. This week’s prize will be a signed copy of Kat Rosenfield’s new book, No One Will Miss Her, which The Washington Post calls “both amusingly satirical and darkly bloody.” The giveaway rules will be at the bottom of this email!
And now… Without further ado, here is Episode 1.
Episode 1 - Who is Evie Holiday
The following series documents the disappearance of model and Tik Tok star, Evie Holiday. The investigation was conducted by me, Cal Everett, and my assistant producer, Joss Solano. Throughout the making of this story, we did our best to cooperate with the Los Angeles Police Department. But once our investigation took us outside state lines, we were on our own. As I record this, Evie Holiday is still missing. But for the first time since her disappearance, we believe we might know the truth about where she has gone.
Welcome to Tik Tik Gone.
AUDIO [@CharlieKing] Are you kidding me? She has 125 million followers on TikTok. She’s like everything.
AUDIO [@LorenChambers]: I don’t get it. All she does is make up stupid dances. What is she famous for?
AUDIO [@BellaBeck]: I heard Dunkin Donuts paid her a million dollars to have a latte named after her.
AUDIO [@CharlieKing]: I would do anything to be her for a day. Anything!
CAL: On July 18th, Evie Holiday posted a TikTok from the set of rapper LaLa Ramsey’s music video, filming on the Venice Boardwalk. Dressed in a white crop top and biker shorts, the 20-year-old influencer, who was the inspiration for Ramsey’s hit song, Money Toks, posed seductively for the camera, twirling her long auburn hair and mouthing the song’s lyrics.
AUDIO FROM “MONEY TOKS” by LA LA RAMSEY: Everyone’s a star, they got something to say, but you don’t need a caption when you look like Holiday. Money Toks… Money Toks…. Money f****** Toks.
CAL: Within twenty minutes, the video had racked up over 10 million views, and the boardwalk was flooded with fans, eager to get a pic with Evie. As LaLa Ramsey said in Rolling Stone, “In today’s culture, influence is power, and stars like Evie Holiday are the overlords.”
The shoot wrapped around 7:00 pm. Holiday attended a wrap party at Brink, a small dive bar in Venice Beach. A source claims that at some point during the evening, Holiday was distraught by a DM she received on her Instagram account. Later, the content of that message would become public. It was from a man named Noah Grisbane and it read – I know your secret.
From Venice Beach, Holiday took an Uber to her luxury apartment in Santa Monica. According to a Postmates delivery person, Eric Wrigley, Evie ordered deluxe chili-cheddar French fries from Del Taco. Wrigley said that Holiday came to the front gate alone and was in a pair of grey sweats and a hoodie. She was on her phone and seemed distracted. It was 9:08 pm.
From 9:08 pm to 2:34 am, Holiday’s movements are unaccounted for.
Then, at 2:34 am, Evie Holiday posted a TikTok that would be heard and seen worldwide.
BUZZFEED NEWS AUDIO: The internet is buzzing this morning after a disturbing TikTok video was posted by one of the platform’s biggest stars.
CAL: The video begins with a shaky flashlight beam cutting through darkness. The sound of boots stomping on wood floors. Finally, the camera focuses on a dark-haired figure, slouched in the corner. The flashlight illuminates the face of Evie Holiday. Her long hair is matted and disheveled, and black mascara runs down her cheeks, stopping where a black gag covers her mouth. Evie shakes her head, yelling behind the gag.
Then a loud noise booms through the space, causing Holiday to look up in fright. Another loud thump. Holiday freezes, waiting for whatever or whoever was coming for her. Then the video ends.
The video spread like wildfire across the internet, racking up almost 800 million views by sunrise. Was it some kind of PR stunt for a new horror movie? Maybe a prank she was pulling on the internet? But as the days went by, and Holiday’s social media channels remained dark, the media coverage picked up steam.
AUDIO FROM ADDISON RAE (4.5 MILLION FANS): I have disturbing news, guys.
[CHOKES UP WITH EMOTION]
One of my closest friends, Evie Holiday, has been reported missing.
AUDIO FROM KIKI KELLY (7.9 MILLION FANS): We’re out here in Santa Monica right now, searching every alleyway, every street corner.
[CROWD CHANTS “FIND EVIE HOLIDAY” IN THE BACKGROUND]
This is a call to every single one of my followers here in Los Angeles. We need search parties all over the city. Let’s bring Evie home.
CAL: Within days, thousands of kids responded to the influencers’ calls to action, sweeping the streets of Los Angeles in search of the missing star. Some were driving as far as Big Bear, combing rest stops and campsites for evidence. Eager to showcase their efforts, fans posted these “search party videos” across social media. For better or worse, it had become like a game, a scavenger hunt. Who could deliver Evie Holiday to the influencer overlords? Who would win?
Like every journalist, I followed the case closely. I even downloaded TikTok to do some research on the missing woman. As I’m nearly thirty, the app felt like a foreign language to me. Evie’s page was full of eight to fifteen-second videos of choreographed dancing, clever before and after gimmicks, Tik Tok trends, sly expressions, and pop culture quotes. Besides her obvious beauty and natural charm, it was hard to get a true read on her persona. Her content felt cryptic, almost mysterious.
In my four years as a podcaster, I have developed a knack for chasing the bizarre and radical, from dangerous conspiracy theorists to bizarre cults. A missing persons case isn’t exactly my forte. So when I pitched this story at a weekly staff meeting, my boss, Eric, was a little taken aback. He was also reluctant. Our studio has earned a niche telling marginalized stories, not rehashing over-saturated mainstream news. My pitch was vetoed, and like everyone else, I watched the case unfold from afar.
On August 1st, nine days after Evie’s disappearance, the LAPD held a press conference where they divulged the identity of their prime suspect, Noah Grisbane. Here’s police detective Mike Waller.
MIKE WALLER: Noah Grisbane was your run-of-the-mill stalker. He was gangly and bug-eyed, with a sinister goatee to match. Now, whether he was dangerous or not, that wasn’t clear. But it was clear that he had a type. His phone was filled with threatening messages to all sorts of female celebrities. Unfortunately, it was Evie Holiday that he really honed in on.
On the night of her disappearance, Noah sent Evie several messages, but the final two were the most alarming. At 10:05 PM, he wrote, “Are you ready to confess your sins to me?” And when she didn’t respond, he added, “I’ll be over soon.”
Why do you think he was so focused on Holiday?
A lot of these influencers aren’t famous enough to have a security detail. Superstars like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez are untouchable. But these influencers are within reach. They are a little more careless with details of their lives. Holiday had created numerous videos filmed within blocks of her apartment.
CAL: Grisbane had a record, a few assault charges, drug charges, B&E. A history of stalking. But what really tipped the LAPD off was a call from one of Holiday’s neighbors who spotted Grisbane’s car on the night Holiday disappeared.
On August 15th, the LAPD apprehended Grisbane at a cheap motel, fifty miles outside of Las Vegas. Watching the news footage from our office, I couldn’t help but notice the smirk on Grisbane’s mouth as he was escorted away in cuffs. Something was telling me that he wanted to be caught.
MIKE WALLER: Those interrogation tapes were truly unsettling. Grisbane claimed that he heard voices and demons whispering in his head. At one point during the interrogation, he just kept mumbling the same phrase over and over, “They have her now, they have her now.” Who knows what that man did to that poor girl?
But without a body, without real evidence, we couldn’t hold him indefinitely.
BUZZFEED AUDIO NEWS: Shocking developments today in the disappearance of Evie Holiday. Noah Grisbane, the authorities’ prime suspect, has been released. The police have not made a statement, nor have they reported any new leads at this time.
CAL: Less than three weeks after his detainment, Noah Grisbane strolled down the steps of the Los Angeles police station into a sea of reporters. I couldn’t believe that this case was so mishandled. By then, the Evie Holiday craze had died down to a simmer. As with most missing person cases, the first forty-eight hours were the most crucial, and it felt like people were starting to lose hope. Soon, the search parties stopped. The ‘FindEvie’ hashtag dried up. And the Tik Tok star was never found.
Which brings us to this podcast.
In September, nearly two months after Holiday went missing. I was working at the BlueLA Studio Headquarters downtown when Eric called me into his office. He said it was my lucky day, then handed me a file on Evie Holiday. Now that the case was no longer trending, Eric wanted me to find something that the police couldn’t.
Eager to get started, I dropped the manilla folder on Joss Solano’s desk. She was my partner and assistant producer. Adjusting her black-framed glasses, Joss scanned the contents, then rolled her eyes before returning to her MacBook display. A former writer at LA Weekly, Joss was a hard-hitting journalist, and an overhyped missing person case about a TikTok influencer wasn’t her idea of legit journalism. But after our latest podcast, which ended with a violent altercation at a QAnon rally, I told her this could be the break we needed. “C’mon,” I pleaded. “I think there’s more to this story than one stalker.”
If I had only known.
CAL: I gathered our team in the conference room. We had Tom, a born researcher, and tech guru. Amy, our intern and Tik Tok aficionado. And Joss, the only person I trusted with my life. I told the team that I wanted to take a different angle. Something that none of the other Evie Holiday profiles had explored. I wrote four words on a whiteboard: Who is Evie Holiday?
We began piecing together the details of Holiday’s life, pinning images on a corkboard. We added relevant Instagram posts, TikTok captions, anything that could round out this influencer and actress. With takeout containers littered across the conference room table, we gathered every piece of information we could find.
Holiday arrived in Los Angeles in 2017, quickly landing a role in a forgettable slasher movie called The Tully House, which received a 12% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Her big break came in 2019 when she joined the coveted Lit House, a mansion that served as an incubator for aspiring Tik Tok influencers to live and create content. During her tenure at the house, Holiday’s following skyrocketed from half a million followers to a hundred million in less than a year. She had become one of the most recognizable faces on the app, a benefit that’s accompanied by high paid endorsements and brand partnerships.
Quickly, we saw a huge, gaping hole in our preliminary research. What about everything before 2017?
Then Joss hit on the question that blew our minds wide open.
JOSS: I asked: Had anyone seen Holiday’s mother or father during the media coverage? How about any childhood friends or other family members? We were like, holy shit, why has no one else talked about this? Was everyone so distracted by the celebrity buzz? Even more bizarre, the few podcasts and journalists that did address it seemed to have conflicting information. Her talent manager said that she came to Hollywood from Reno, Nevada. Another source said she came to Hollywood from Scottsdale, Arizona. Evie Holiday’s early life was a complete enigma. No one really knew anything.
CAL: We had our angle. The police might have been focused on Holiday’s final moves, but we needed to track her first ones. Why did we know so little about where Evie came from? Was Evie Holiday trying to hide something about her past?
CAL: It was a perfect day in Santa Monica when Joss and I entered Turmeric, an upscale juice shop with white subway tile and fifteen-dollar smoothies. The sound of celery slicing through a juicer reverberated through the small space. Holiday’s assistant, Chloe Candela, was perched at the bar, tapping away on her phone. Since Holiday’s disappearance, Chloe’s follower count had gone from ten thousand to nearly half a million.
We bought smoothies and walked, together with Chloe, to Evie’s apartment one block away.
CHLOE: I’ll tell you what I told the police. Evie wasn’t like anyone else I’ve worked for. There was something different about her. Like she grew up on another planet.
What do you mean?
I had to teach her simple things. Like she couldn’t even compose an email when we first met. Almost like she had never seen an iPhone in her life. And she wasn’t entitled like the rest of them, you know? When I told her Chanel wanted to work with her, she didn’t seem to care. How crazy is that?
So what did she care about?
Most of these girls just want to be famous. But not Evie. She never gave two shits about the attention. That’s why the other influencers at Lit House liked her. She wasn’t trying to steal their limelight. But truthfully, she was even more dangerous.
She was studying them. Finding out what made them tick. You ever see Black Widow? That brainwashed soldier that mimics their opponent. It learns how to fight like them, so ultimately, it can use their best moves against them. That was Evie. She was studying her friends so she could replicate them, and defeat them. She was motivated by a bigger purpose. She was playing a different game.
CAL: We arrived at Evie’s apartment, an upscale complex with a locked iron gate. As Chloe jiggled her key into Holiday’s apartment door, she told us that there were no signs of forced entry, nor any tripping of Evie’s alarm system. Could Evie have known the kidnapper and let him or her in of her own accord?
As soon as we walked in, the smell of stale air and dead plants overwhelmed us. The apartment was small and sleek, with modern furniture and carefully curated coffee table books. It felt more like a furniture showroom than someone’s home. On the wall, various pictures of pop art hung next to framed photos of Holiday with her influencer friends. As we slowly walked through the living room, Chloe described the morning of the disappearance.
CHLOE: I arrived at nine in the morning, and the only thing out of place was a tipped-over barstool. I called hello, and when Evie didn’t answer, I went from room to room.
CAL: Chloe led us into the bedroom, another sterile box with pristine furnishings and little-to-no personality.
CHLOE: When I came in, the bed was unmade, and all her dresses were thrown across the room. Right away, I noticed one dress was missing. This beautiful sparkly cutout gown she wore for the MTV Music Awards. I loved that dress. That was another reason the police dialed in on Grisbane. That photo was the background on his phone.
There’s one more thing I want to show you in the bathroom.
CAL: As we entered the bathroom, Chloe pointed to a large symbol hand-drawn in red lipstick in the middle of the mirror. It was a Celtic-style knot with three interlacing arcs. Joss pulled out her phone and quickly deciphered the symbol. It was called a triquetra, a spiritual symbol with numerous meanings, including the Holy Trinity. It also held meaning in the Wiccan community as a magical bond or a symbol of protection. Chloe told us that it was the symbol tattooed on the side of Evie’s wrist.
As we were locking up the apartment, I asked Chloe if Evie had ever spoken about her family. Chloe shook her head.
CHLOE: We had a very professional relationship. I would say she made her own family, but if I’m being honest, that’s a lie.
Evie didn’t have close friends. She was a loner. Everyone pretended to be Evie’s friend because it was beneficial for their brand. But they all talked behind her back. I also heard a rumor about an altercation with someone at Lit House.
CAL: As if she could read our mind, Chloe whipped out her phone and showed us the TikTok profile of Lit House owner, Jason Vetta. I could almost hear Joss groan from the corner of the apartment. We were going into the heart of the Tik Tok world.
AUDIO INTERVIEW [JASON VETTA]: I remember Evie’s arrival like it was yesterday, standing in the driveway with this antique wooden jewelry box in her hand. Like that was her only possession in the world.
[FADE OUT INTERVIEW}
CAL: This is Jason Vetta, co-owner of Lit House, a gated mansion fifteen minutes from the iconic Hollywood sign. It might be hard to imagine that nineteen kids under twenty-three lived in a ten-million-dollar mansion, but many of them earned as much with one brand deal as their neighbors made in a single year. Jason had a boyish smile, curly brown hair, and lightning bolt earrings that dangled loosely from his ears. He wore a tank top, showing off his tattooed biceps. At twenty-three, Jason was the resident senior, and one of the co-founders of the house. To Jason, Lit House was like the Saturday Night Live of content creators. As he so humbly put it, this was where TikTok stars were made.
I had imagined teenagers ripping bongs and eating spicy Cheetos in front of the television. Instead, as we walked through the house, we saw energetic teenagers setting up professional lighting and framing shots. Lit House was all about productivity. They weren’t wasting this opportunity.
Jason stopped at the kitchen and opened the fridge, pulling out a neon-colored energy drink, Lit2O, the official sponsor of the house.
JASON: None of us really knew Evie. Like we all hung out with her, but she was quiet. Mysterious as hell. Never revealed more than she had to. But I’ll tell you this — She always knew where the camera was.
Did she have problems with anyone in the house?
JASON: Just… Jessica.
CAL: Jason was referring to Jessica Levi, another twenty-year-old TikTok star who also starred in The Tully House alongside Evie. They lived together in Lit House for eight months.
JASON: They came into the house at the same time. Jessica vouched for her. Made it seem like Evie was her sidekick. But about a week into it, Evie started coming into her own. Started making videos with all Jessica’s friends. Started getting a shit-ton of more followers. Jessica was jealous. Talked shit about Evie behind her back. Bullying her a bit. It was all fun and games. Until that one night…
[SHAKES HIS HEAD]
It was a dumb TikTok prank called The Plaza, named after some rom-com.1 You’re supposed to switch out someone’s shampoo for blue hair dye. Pretty messed up. So we were all hanging downstairs, about to shoot a group video, when Evie comes down looking like a blueberry slushie exploded in her hair. Everyone was laughing, filming it on their phones. And I’ll never forget this. Evie didn’t get angry. She just stood there, grinning. Gives me the chills just thinking about it. Then she walked straight up to Jessica and whispered something in her ear. None of us heard what she said, but Jessica went pale as a ghost. Never told anyone what Evie said.
So what happened?
From then on, Jessica spent all her time locked in her room. Stopped eating, stopped hanging out with us. We have a rule in this house. If you’re going to live here, you gotta’ shoot videos. One day she just vacated.
CAL: Jason smirked, and motioned for us to follow him out to the balcony, a massive Spanish style veranda overlooking an infinity pool. We approached a group of teenagers giggling and practicing choreography. Jason waved over a kid with buzzed hair and a stringy goatee. His name was Malcolm, and from his twitchy movement and lack of eye contact, we could tell he was uncomfortable around us.
MALCOLM: Sorry, am I in trouble?
JASON: Tell these guys what you found in Evie’s room.
MALCOLM: Listen, I didn’t mean to snoop. I just—
[GLANCES OVER TO JASON FOR REASSURANCE]
I had a big crush on Evie. That’s the reason I snuck into her room, and I picked the lock on her jewelry box. I wanted to find out what made her tick.
What was in the box?
CAL: Malcolm pulled out his phone and showed us a photo of the open box. Inside was a small gold chain with the familiar trinity knot medallion. And next to it, a hunting knife. Malcolm zoomed in closer, and that was when we saw it. Dried blood stains coated the small, silver blade.
MALCOLM: I was super careful to put the box right where I left it. But Evie must have known. Because a day later, she disappeared. Never told anyone she was leaving.
CAL: Who was Evie Holiday? It was clear we, nor the world, had any idea.
CAL: That night, I lay in bed scrolling through Evie’s videos. As I stared at her secretive smile and casual dance routines, I couldn’t help but feel like this wasn’t the real Evie Holiday. Like she had conned her followers into believing that she was some carefree 20-year-old when clearly there was something much darker bubbling beneath the surface. Or, as Chloe had said, a different ambition.
I fell asleep and awoke in the morning to my phone buzzing. When I answered, Joss told me to open TikTok.
Evie Holiday had just posted a new video.
That’s it for this week! Episode two will be posted on November 23rd!
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The romantic comedy was called Bride Wars. In the movie, Anne Hathaway’s character (Emma Allen) sneaks into a hair salon and switches the hair coloring of Kate Hudson’s character (Live Lerner) to blue.